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Development of the Nervous System - 3rd Edition - ISBN: 9780080923208

Development of the Nervous System

3rd Edition

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Authors: Dan Sanes Thomas Reh William Harris
eBook ISBN: 9780080923208
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 25th January 2011
Page Count: 360
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Development of the Nervous System presents a broad and basic treatment of the established and evolving principles of neural development as exemplified by key experiments and observations from past and recent times. The text is organized ontogenically. It begins with the emergence of the neural primordium and takes a chapter-by-chapter approach in succeeding events in neural development: patterning and growth of the nervous system, neuronal determination, axonal navigation and targeting, neuron survival and death, synapse formation and developmental plasticity. Finally, in the last chapter, with the construction phase nearing completion, we examine the emergence of behavior. This new edition reflects the complete modernization of the field that has been achieved through the intensive application of molecular, genetic, and cell biological approaches. It is richly illustrated with color photographs and original drawings. Combined with the clear and concise writing, the illustrations make this a book that is well suited to students approaching this intriguing field for the first time.

Key Features

  • Thorough survey of the field of neural development
  • Concise but complete, suitable for a one semester course on upper level undergraduate or graduate level
  • Focus on fundamental principles of organogenesis in the nervous system
  • Integrates information from a variety of model systems, relating them to human nervous system development, including disorders of development
  • Systematically develops knowledge from the description of key experiments and results
  • Organized ontologically
  • Carefully edited to be presented in one voice
  • New edition thoroughly updated and revised to include major new findings
  • All figures in full color, updated and revised
  • Specific attention on revising the chapter on cognitive and behavioral development to provide a foundation and outlook towards those very fast moving areas
  • Instructor website with figure bank and test questions


Neuroscience and developmental biology researchers, students, and educators -mid to upper level undergraduate bio / pre-med, and graduate and medical schools

Table of Contents

1. Neural induction

Development and evolution of neurons

Early embryology of metazoans

Derivation of neural tissue

Interactions with neighboring tissues in making neural tissue

The molecular nature of the neural inducer

Conservation of neural induction

Interactions among the ectodermal cells in controlling neuroblast segregation


2. Polarity and segmentation

Regional identity of the nervous system

The anterior–posterior axis and hox genes

Hox gene function in the vertebrate nervous system

Signaling molecules that pattern the anterior–posterior axis in vertebrates: heads or tails

Organizing centers in the developing brain

Forebrain development, prosomeres, and pax genes

Dorsal–ventral polarity in the neural tube

Dorsal neural tube and neural crest

Patterning the cerebral cortex


3. Genesis and migration

What determines the number of cells produced by the progenitors?

The generation of neurons and glia

Cerebral cortex histogenesis

Cerebellar cortex histogenesis

Molecular mechanisms of neuronal migration

Postembryonic and adult neurogenesis


4. Determination and differentiation

Transcriptional hierarchies in invariant lineages: C. elegans neurons

Spatial and temporal coordinates of determination: drosophila CNS neuroblasts

Asymmetric cell divisions and asymmetric fate

Generating complexity through cellular interactions: the drosophila retina

Specification and differentiation through cellular interactions and interactions with the local environment: the vertebrate neural crest

Competence and histogenesis: the mammalian cortex

The interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic influences in histogenesis: the vertebrate retina

Interpreting gradients and the spatial organization of cell types: spinal motor neurons


5. Axon growth and guidance

The growth cone

The dynamic cytoskeleton

Dendrite formation

What do growth cones grow on?

What provides directional information to growth cones?

Cell adhesion and labeled pathways

Repulsive guidance

Chemotaxis, gradients, and local information

Signal transduction

The midline: to cross or not to cross?

Attraction and repulsion: desensitization and adaptation

The optic pathway: getting there from here


6. Target selection


Target recognition and target entry

Slowing down and branching in the target region

Border patrol: the prevention of inappropriate targeting

Topographic mapping

Chemospecificity and ephrins

The third dimension, lamina-specific termination

Cellular and synaptic targeting

Sniffing out targets

Shifting and fine tuning of connections


7. Naturally-occurring neuron death

What does neuron death look like?

Early elimination of progenitor cells

How many differentiated neurons die?

Survival depends on the synaptic target

NGF: a target-derived survival factor

The neurotrophin family

The trk family of neurotrophin receptors

How does the neurotrophin signal reach the soma?

The p75 neurotrophin receptor can initiate cell death

Cytokines act as neuron survival factors

Hormonal control of neuron survival

Cell death requires protein synthesis

Intracellular signaling pathways that mediate survival

Intracellular signaling pathways that mediate death

Caspases: agents of death

Bcl-2 proteins: regulators of programmed cell death

Removal of dying neurons

Synaptic transmission at the target

Afferent regulation of neuron survival

Intracellular calcium mediates both survival and death


8. Synapse formation and function

What do newly formed synapses look like?

Where Do Synapses Form on the Postsynaptic Cell?

How Rapidly Are Synapses Added to the Nervous System?

The first signs of synapse function

The decision to form a synapse

The sticky synapse

Converting growth cones to presynaptic terminals

Receptor clustering and postsynaptic differentiation at the NMJ

Agrin is a transynaptic clustering signal at the NMJ

Receptor clustering signals in the CNS

Scaffold proteins and receptor aggregation in the CNS

Innervation increases receptor expression and insertion

Synaptic activity regulates receptor density

Maturation of transmission and receptor isoform transitions

Maturation of transmitter reuptake

Short-term plasticity

Appearance of synaptic inhibition

Is inhibition really inhibitory during development?


9. Refinement of synaptic connections

The early pattern of connections

Functional synapses are eliminated

Many axonal arborizations are eliminated or refined

The Sensory Environment Influences Synaptic Connections

Activity Influences Synapse Elimination at the NMJ

Synapse refinement is reflected in sensory coding properties

Activity contributes to topography and the alignment of maps

Spontaneous activity and afferent refinement

Critical periods: enhanced plasticity during development

Heterosynaptic Depression and Synapse Elimination

Involvement of intracellular calcium

Calcium-activated second messenger systems

Gain control

Homeostatic plasticity: the more things change, the more they stay the same

Plasticity of inhibitory connections

Synaptic influence on neuron morphology


10. Behavioral development

Behavioral ontogeny

The first movements are spontaneous

The mechanism of spontaneous movements

More complex behavior is assembled from the integration of simple circuits

The role of activity in the emergence of coordinated behavior

Stage-specific behaviors

Genetic determinants of behavior

Environmental determinants of behavioral development

Beginning to make sense of the world

Asking babies questions (and getting some answers!)

Acute hearing

Sharp eyesight

Sex-specific behavior

Genetic sex

Hormonal control of brain gender

Singing in the brain

Genetic control of brain gender in flies

From Genome to Brain Gender in Vertebrates?

Genomic Imprinting: The Ultimate in Parental Control

Hit the Ground Learning

Learning preferences from aversions

Skill Learning: It Don’t Come Easy

Getting information from one brain to another



Molecules and Genes Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2012
25th January 2011
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Dan Sanes

Dr. Sanes is Professor in the Center for Neural Science and Department of Biology at New York University. Named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2010 for his research in auditory central nervous system development, his research has been supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Science Foundation. His lab studies synaptic plasticity and central auditory processing, and the phenomenon of hearing loss during development.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor, Center for Neural Science and Department of Biology, New York University, NY, USA

Thomas Reh

Dr. Reh is Professor of Biological Structure and Director of the Neurobiology and Behavior Program at the University of Washington. He is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and of a start-up biotechnology company, Acucela. He has received several awards for his work, including the AHFMR and Sloan Scholar awards and has published over 100 journal articles, reviews and books. Funded by numerous N.I.H. and private foundation grants, his lab is focused on the development and repair of the retina, with an overall goal of understanding the cellular and molecular biology of regeneration in the eye.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Biological Structure and Director of the Neurobiology and Behavior Program, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

William Harris

Dr. Harris is co-chair of Cambridge Neuroscience and Director of Studies in Neuroscience. He is also Head of the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience, and is Professor of Anatomy. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2007, he was Professor of Biology at UCSD prior to accepting a position at Cambridge. His lab is working to elucidate the cellular and molecular events that are used to push or induce cells to transition from proliferating stem cells to differentiated neurons and glia, and how particular regions of the nervous system produce the right number of neurons and the right proportions of different neuron subtypes.

Affiliations and Expertise

Head of the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience, Professor of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, UK

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